Fanclubwallet: "I love fun songs, but all that was coming out was this heart-crushing stuff"

Interview Fanclubwallet: “I love fun songs, but all that was coming out was this heart-crushing stuff”

Ottawa musician Hannah Judge has had her fair share of challenges over the past year, but it’s with her debut album that she’s been able to find herself again.

“I’m someone who is always giving advice to friends,” Hannah Judge offers up wryly, as she Zooms in from her bedroom in Ottawa. “It’s like, if something bad has happened to you, ask me! It’s probably happened to me too!”

Her stage name, Fanclubwallet (inspired by her dad’s Dennis The Menace money holder), might suggest a certain frivolity, but as her statement attests, Hannah’s got more in the bank than just a knack for a memorable moniker.

Take the fact that, having made the decision to drop out of her university course in Montreal to pursue a career in comic illustration, she soon found herself back living with her parents, where she then suffered from her first major Crohn’s disease flare-up since high school. “I was like, “OK, I’m trapped in my home:’,” she says, a glint of humour in her inflection. But even when bedridden, she continued writing music. Recruiting close friend Michael Watson to help, from her bedroom the pair created 2021 debut EP “Hurt Is Boring’ and set things firmly in motion. “Suddenly I’m making music and people are listening to it,” she reflects today. “Everything was really changing.”

After ten months of being ill, Hannah had recovered enough to decide to move back to Montreal - a decision that presented its own set of challenges. “I’m doing a lot better now, and obviously things have opened up,” she says. But having spent such a long time behind closed doors, she found herself reassessing. “It was like, ‘Oh my god, who am I?’ It feels like my personality took a weird, year-long pause, and then last summer I was like, “OK, I’m gonna try to remember who I am as a person’. I decided to move out, and go and do stuff on my own, and just become a human being again.” And it’s these questions that helped shape her debut album, this month’s “You Have Got To Be Kidding Me’.

A record that builds upon the brand of authentic but introspective slackerish rock that she cultivated within her EP, Fanclubwallet’s first full-length takes things a step further. The album both broadens her sonic palette - “I used to be very like, “I have one guitar and don’t need anything else’,” she notes - and offers up a series of honest but witty accounts of life that feel refreshingly relatable.

“Some of the songs were kinda hard to write. For part of the album, I could only write really sad songs and that’s not what I want to do. I love fun, happy, upbeat songs, but all that was coming out was this heart-crushing stuff,” she notes. “But we finished recording the album in the woods up in Frontenac, which felt really good as I was able to sit with the songs and look at them more objectively. We wrote the title track while we were there, and that felt really cathartic. I’m feeling much happier now.”

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